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World Bank: U.S. economic power may fade

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. dollar could lose its position as "the world's predominant reserve currency," the president of the World Bank said Monday.

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In a speech at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, Robert Zoellick said the euro and the Chinese renminbi, or yuan, are gaining favor and could challenge the dollar, The New York Times reported.

"The United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar's place as the world's predominant reserve currency," Zoellick said. "Looking forward, there will increasingly be other options to the dollar."

Zoellick -- who formerly served as U.S. trade representative and as deputy secretary of state during the administration of President George W. Bush -- said the euro is already a "respectable alternative" for international trade financing and there is "every reason to believe that the euro's acceptability could grow."

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Zoellick said the dollar will encounter growing competition from the yuan during the next 10 or 20 years.

He said the United States is losing its pre-eminence and -- along with other wealthy nations -- faces a loss of influence in the international economy, the Times said.


Harper: 90 percent of stimulus allocated

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday 90 percent of the country's economic stimulus spending has been allocated.

The premier, under political pressure to show that his government is moving to help workers during the global recession, made the comments in a Saint John, New Brunswick, train yard as part of his third stimulus spending "report card" to Parliament, The Globe and Mail reported.

While not saying exactly how much infrastructure construction work is under way, he did say the stimulus spending is "beginning to bear fruit. We are seeing stabilization and the beginning of a recovery."

The stimulus "report cards" were mandated by the Liberal Party as a condition for their support for the federal budget submitted earlier this year by Harper's Conservative Party government.

The newspaper said Harper stressed that Canada is better off than the United States in some ways, saying, "The unemployment rate in Canada is now one full percentage point lower than it is in the United States -- the first time this has occurred in a generation."

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The delivery of the latest stimulus report card could lead to a showdown that may decide the fate of the government, Canwest News Service reported.

Analysts say two days after it is introduced in Parliament, opposition Liberals will be free to introduce a no-confidence motion against the government, leading to a confrontation in which it would likely be up to the New Democratic Party to decide whether it will prop up Harper.

Canwest said the Conservatives would need at least one of the three opposition parties to either vote with Harper or abstain to avoid defeat and trigger a fall election.


Obama assassination 'poll' investigated

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The Secret Service says it is investigating a purported "poll" posted by a Facebook user that asks whether U.S. President Barack Obama should be assassinated.

The poll was posted Saturday but was quickly removed by Facebook employees when they were told of its existence, Fox News reported.

The broadcaster said Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said the agency will take "appropriate investigative steps," but declined to give details.

A Facebook spokesman said the poll was posted using a "third-party application" -- an unnamed third party using an application to post while removed from direct contact with Facebook.

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The poll asked, "Should Obama be killed?" Fox said the possible answers provided were "no," "maybe," "yes," and "yes if he cuts my healthcare."

Facebook is cooperating with the Secret Service investigation, its spokesman said.


Dissident Army officer to be discharged

FORT LEWIS, Wash., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada will be discharged this week, ending a long-running legal dispute centered on his refusal to deploy to Iraq, officials said.

Watada's court martial in 2007 ended in a mistrial and the U.S. Justice Department said in May it would drop its appeal of a court ruling that Watada, 31, could not face court martial twice. The Army has decided not to pursue further prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Instead, Army spokesman Joseph Piek said, the Army will discharge Watada, who had argued that if he were deployed to Iraq he would be forced to participate in war crimes.

"What was approved was basically his request to resign in lieu of a general court-martial for the good of the service," Piek said.

Watada's separation is classified as an administrative discharge, the Times said. His lawyers said it was granted under "other than honorable conditions."

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Watada said in a 2006 interview that former President George W. Bush had betrayed the American people's trust and said he was ashamed to wear his Army uniform because of Bush's conduct.


Four charged in Chicago beating death

Four teenagers were charged Monday with the beating death of a 16-year-old honor student, Chicago authorities said.

Hours after three suspects were charged in the case, prosecutors said a fourth suspect, Eugene Bailey, 18, was charged with first-degree murder, the Chicago Tribune reported. Silvonus Shannon, 19, Eugene Riley, 18, and Eric Carson, 16, were charged as adults with first-degree murder and ordered held without bond, the Cook County state's attorney's office said.

Bailey is scheduled to have a bond hearing Tuesday, the Tribune said.

Derrion Albert was beaten by both sides in a fight related to a shooting outside Fenger High School Thursday, the newspaper said. An amateur video of the incident turned over to authorities showed a group of youths kicking, punching and beating Albert with weapons including a railroad tie.

At a hearing Monday, prosecutors said Riley hit Albert with a railroad tie and Shannon stomped on his head several times as Albert tried to get out of the melee. Police said they were able to identify the suspects by examining the amateur video, the Tribune reported.

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Albert died from cerebral injuries and blunt head trauma, the Cook County medical examiner concluded.

Chicago police set up extra security at the school Monday, saying they feared there might be repercussions when students returned to classes Monday. Albert's family organized a march and vigil at the school Monday afternoon.

Family members told police they do not think he was involved with gangs.

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